Richard Gere does ballroom dancing in Shall We Dance (2004)
Gere stars in the 2004 remake of a Japanese masterpiece ‘Shall We Dance?’ along with Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Ann Walter, Anita Gillette, Bobby Cannavale, Omar Miller, Richard Jenkins and Nick Cannon.
If you can recall, Gere also starred in another Japanese remake I reviewed; Hachiko: A Dog’s Story.
The film is a remake of Masayuki Suo’s 1996 award winning film of the same and was adapted by Audrey Wells and directed by Peter Chelsom.
Gere stars as John Clark, a Chicago lawyer who feels his life is missing something but he can’t quite put his finger on it. His routine is done with habitual precision and there seems to be no excitement or impulsiveness in his life.
Every night on his way home he sees a young woman (Jennifer Lopez) looking out the windows of a dance school. One night, out the blue, he plucks the courage to go and meet her. However, halfway there he courage fails and tries to come back but is forced into the dance studio by the obnoxious Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter).
The film’s primary theme, although incorporates dancing, is about pretenses and role play in order to fit into preconceived ideas.
Gere’s character, John, has never done anything impulsive in his life until now. This causes a lot of suspicious especially when his family start to notice the subtle but apparent changes which compel his wife to hire a private detective, Devine, to find the truth.
Mrs Clark is portrayed by the ever beautiful Susan Sarandon.
Then there’s Tucci’s character, Link Peterson, a middle aged colleague of John who puts up a facade during the day as a sports nut but whose greatest passion is dancing. Unfortunately, the image of ballroom dancing and sports freak don’t go well together.
There’s also John’s classmates; Vern, Chick and Bobbie.
Vern (Omar Miller), although claiming to practice dancing so he can dance at his wedding, hasn’t actually asked the future fiancé yet.
But his problems are minor compared to Chick (Bobby Cannavale) tries too hard to be masculine, probably to hide the innate sensuality.
Bobbie, on the other hand, is a direct contrast of these characters being a little too open and bluntly obnoxious.
The structure of the characters is also superb especially the grouping of a contrasting character among the similar ones. This allows the audience to subtly pick out the differences without even thinking about it. It also creates a depth to the characters.
Unfortunately, I could not get a copy of the original film. It would have been great to compare the two and build an opinion. However, watching this version is like listening to the ocean breeze.
It is relaxing, yet has an energy about it that will make you want to go out and look for the nearest ballroom dance studio.